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Menstrual toxic shock syndrome (mTSS) is a rare, recognizable, and treatable disease that has been associated with tampon use epidemiologically. It involves a confluence of microbial risk factors (Staphylococcus aureus strains that produce the superantigen—TSST-1), as well as environmental characteristics of the vaginal ecosystem during menstruation and host susceptibility factors. This paper describes a series of experiments using the well-characterized model of porcine vaginal mucosa ex-vivo to assess the effect of these factors associated with tampon use on the permeability of the mucosa. The flux of radiolabeled TSST-1 and tritiated water (3H2O) through porcine vaginal mucosa was determined at various temperatures, after mechanical disruption of the epithelial surface by tape stripping, after treatment with surfactants or other compounds, and in the presence of microbial virulence factors. Elevated temperatures (42, 47 and 52 °C) did not significantly increase flux of 3H2O. Stripping of the epithelial layers significantly increased the flux of labeled toxin in a dose-dependent manner. Addition of benzalkonium chloride (0.1 and 0.5%) and glycerol (4%) significantly increased the flux of 3H2O but sodium lauryl sulfate at any concentration tested did not. The flux of the labeled toxin was significantly increased in the presence of benzalkonium chloride but not Pluronic® L92 and Tween 20 and significantly increased with addition of α-hemolysin but not endotoxin. These results show that the permeability of porcine vagina ex-vivo to labeled toxin or water can be used to evaluate changes to the vaginal environment and modifications in tampon materials, and thus aid in risk assessment.Model assessed local effects of tampon use on vaginal mucosa.Risks were evaluated using two tracers to assess permeability in an ex vivo model.Mechanical damage to the epithelial surface increased tracer penetration.Surfactants increased penetration of tracers across vaginal mucosa.Alpha-hemolysin increased the penetration of bacterial toxin across vaginal mucosa.